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Okay, I’m going to say it. I didn’t like this book as much as I was expecting.

After loving Vicious for over 5 years – reading it when it first got published – I have 3 editions, special character cards and bookmarks. I love that book and I was so so excited. But for me, the follow-up lacked direction and abandoned the veteran characters to play with a new main character that I just struggled to care about.

I could see what the book wanted to do, molding the new characters into the Villians world and driving them to face the original gang. But about halfway through, I lost interest, somewhere between Marcella dissolving the line of powerful men that stood in her way and Victor dying for the millionth time, I found myself bored – and incredibly sad about that fact.

The problem I think, is that I wanted a follow up on the characters I grew to love and this wasn’t it. This book made cardboard cutouts of the original gang. There was not enough time spent on them for me to feel like that they were part of the story – and I really really wanted it to be their story.

Victor didn’t feel like Victor – his character faded into a side character and he should never be a side character.

Mitch hardly did anything remotely Mitch-like, like drink chocolate milk whilst discussing murderous databases (even though databases were involved).

Sydney just whined about being a teenager whilst looking about 10 – would you rather be at the bottom of a frozen lake Syd?

I did appreciate the back story on Eli, his character didn’t fade. I didn’t find myself starting to like Eli, however, which I assume was the goal, but I was very happy to understand him more (only for him to die at the end).

Instead, we got Marcella who’s power was really cool, but after the third snide comment on how men call her crazy, I regrettably had to eye-roll – okay Marcella, I get it – but I have a feeling that you are actually just crazy (which got kinda boring pretty fast). Maybe this was what was meant to be expressed, as she lacked any strong, reasonable motive – apart from just being power hungry. In Vicious, both Victor and Eli had clear, powerful motives that drove the story to that final night and perfect end scene. This – this didn’t feel anything like that. What exactly was her reason for gathering the whole of Merit’s high society other than just to show off? Maybe if the plot was her hunting down her husband a little more I might have been a bit more interested.

Convenience was a such a big issue in this book – it was convenient that Jonathan, who started as such a promising character dissolved into the background and became a tool to make Marcella a credible threat.  It was convenient that Dr Haverty somehow found a method of hurting Eli, only for him to show up near the end. It was convenient that the only friend Sydney made outside the gang was June. And whilst I really did like June as a character her sister-like bond with Syd felt rather forced.

Victor’s final decision at the end just reversed the two books (and thirteen years) worth of character development. Whilst I see his motives and Sydney does have the ability to find him again if needed. I adored his development of finding a family (of sorts) and their characters working together. For him to reverse that just seemed like such a waste.

Phew, now I’ve got all that off my chest I feel a lot better.

It does sound like I didn’t enjoy the book, but there were some aspects I liked, it wasn’t a complete lost cause for me but I won’t be going back to it anytime soon (and I’ve re-read Vicious a lot!)

As an aside: Something I’ve noticed in 90% of Victoria Schwab’s published works (and I’ve read them all) is that it needs a really good edit. Grammer, missing words, confusing sentences – they all took me out of the story. And this isn’t a comment on Schwab’s writing – I love her writing, I just don’t love her editor.

Despite all this, if you’d still like to check it out it’s available in the following places (got to pay the bills right?)